'Rafael Nadal is best clay-courter, he is always the favorite,' said Carreno Busta
The 20-time Major champion Rafael Nadal will seek the fifth Caja Magica title this week, and the first since 2017, facing Carlos Alcaraz in the second round.
The Spaniard is yet to reach his best form on clay, losing in the Monte Carlo quarter-final and winning the 12th Barcelona Open crown after fending off a match point in that epic final against Stefanos Tsitsipas. For Pablo Carreno Busta, Rafa is always the favorite at every clay event he enters, calling his compatriot the greatest player of all time on the slowest surface.
Due to a back injury, Nadal has played only three tournaments in 2021, reaching the Australian Open quarter-final and wasting two sets to love advantage against Stefanos Tsitsipas. The Spaniard took some time off the court and returned in Monte Carlo and Barcelona, struggling a bit and hoping to raise his level in Madrid and chase the 36th Masters 1000 crown.
"Rafa is not at his best at the moment, although it's hard to maintain a very high level or recover it after not playing for a couple of months. Rafa had to skip two months after the Australian Open, but he is still a player to beat on clay. It's challenging to play against him, and I consider Rafa the greatest clay-courter in history.
To beat him, you have to use every weapon in your arsenal and play well from start to finish, hoping he is not at his best. Rafa is a favorite in every clay-court tournament and the title contender," Pablo Carreno Busta said.